Like more space to birth your baby?

Photo credit: Human Birth Project

Photo credit: Human Birth Project

Want extra space for your baby to move down in labour? Labouring and birthing off your back (i.e. upright, hands and knees etc.) allows your Rhombus of Michaelis, the kite shaped area in your lower back, to open up like a butterfly giving baby an extra couple of centimeters! That's a lot when you consider a baby's head usually moulds to 10cm or less during birth...

Like to find out more about making space for baby in labour, and how to help baby begin labour in an optimal position? You'll find lots of great information on these topics in The Birthing Room's new Online Antenatal Classes! Due for release in March 2018!


3 Essential Things Every Birth Support Person Should Know

Photo credit: Bloom Birth Photography

Photo credit: Bloom Birth Photography


Let’s be brutally honest. There are two types of birth support people. Ones that help, and ones that hinder. Unfortunately it’s not always easy to know whether the person Mama’s chosen to be with her during labour and birth is a help or a hinderer until labour starts! Just in case Mama’s got a closest hinderer on her team, here are 3 things she can share with her birth team ahead of time that will greatly enhance her labour and birth experience.

One: A support person’s belief in the Mama is CRUCIAL

No matter whether Mama is planning on having her hubby, Mum, bestie or someone else with her during baby’s arrival, what they think in their head and their heart deeply matters. This is because labour has little to do with the physical process and everything to do with the emotional and spiritual. If a birth team secretly doubts Mama’s ability to birth her baby, it’s more than likely that she just won’t. Can you imagine running a long distance race thinking how well you are doing, only to find well meaning friends and family at every km saying “You look tired, why don’t you just walk for a while?” “You won’t get a medal for finishing” etc. Discouraging huh?!
Support people, make sure you communicate your belief in Mama in every word, every touch, every look. When labour intensifies it can be as simple as saying “I truly believe in your ability to birth this baby”, or looking into her eyes with a calm, trusting smile.

Two: Silence

One of the roles of the birth team is to hold the space. So support people, make sure your phone is turned off and you are not constantly sending updates to people. If you feel something needs to be said, consider if it’s necessary, and with how few words you can say it. E.g. Instead of saying “Would you like a drink of water?” just hold up the cup and straw and say “Water?” Avoid the temptation to make small talk with the midwife, or chat amongst yourselves. There will be plenty of time to catch up after baby arrives. Quietness during labour helps to close off the analytical part of Mama’s brain, meaning her primal brain (the part of her that instinctively knows how to birth her baby) can be running at its full ability.

Three: Self Care

During labour a Mama’s sense of smell is heightened, much like during the first trimester nausea phase. A spray of smelly deodourant can feel overwhelming to a labouring Mama. She’ll be able to pick up anyone’s secret smoking habit. She’ll know if you had coffee 2hrs ago. So be thoughtful ahead of time. Whilst Mama will have a bag or a box packed full of her birth supplies, support people will need this too. At a bare minimum pack a toothbrush and toothpaste, water, and a change of top in case labour takes some time. I’d also encourage you to pack lots of healthy, energy giving snacks (to give you endurance), something to do e.g. a magazine (if Mama needs some alone time this will stop you looking like you are observing her), and to take a wee break every couple of hours during labour so you can keep giving Mama your best.

Being a kind and thoughtful birth support person helps Mama have a more positive birth experience!

Home Birth -does “being brave” really count?

Did you give birth in a hospital "just in case?". Many women make that choice, only to have the very birth they went there to avoid. In New Zealand we are lucky that we can birth at home without financial implications. However, we have a more complicated issue and that is the lack of knowledge and choice! The Birthing Room believes a woman will give birth the best where she feels most safe and secure. For many women that would be home if they knew that they could make that choice. Have a read of this short article: "I've heard many women say in response to the new guidelines that they wouldn't be "brave enough" to have a home birth. If encouraging women to have a home birth means some feel this way, then..." Push for more home births in the UK

Off to Auckland I go…

Was my privilege to attend Dr Sarah Buckley’s Undisturbed Birth Conference in Auckland on Friday. The key point: A birthing woman should feel “PRIVATE” “SAFE” AND “UNOBSERVED”. Fantastic to learn all about the role of the birth hormone cocktail and the impact these have on labour, birth & postpartum. Looking forward to incorporating this knowledge into The Birthing Room’s antenatal classes & workshops, so you are brought the latest evidence-based research. Was up from 3am until midnight, but hey, I think you are worth the effort! sarah buckley conference1

sarah buckley conference2

Pregnant? Want to develop more trust & faith in your body’s ability to give birth?

The last registrations are available for the April BirthWorks Antenatal Workshop now! A condensed version of The Birthing Room BirthWorks Antenatal Course, tailored to suit your individual needs. Key topics include optimal foetal positioning, comfort measures in birth, informed decision making about medical intervention & obstetrical drugs, and much more!

Click here for more information:


The Mystical Purple Line

Is it true that one could tell how dilated a labouring woman is, just by, well… looking at her behind?! While vaginal examinations are able to give the care provider more information than just dilation, they do come with risk and cause many women pain, embarrassment, disappointment and can even be a source of trauma to a sexual abuse survivor.

And so enters the subject of the purple line. A longitudinal study by Shepherd et. al. * showed the following:

  • 76% of women had the purple line present at some point in their labour
  • there was a medium correlation between length of purple line, cervical dilation & station of foetal head, indicating that as labour progressed, the length of the purple line increased
  • the cause is uncertain, and the purple line appeared to only begin when labour commenced
  • over 1/4 of women who measured 1-2cm with a VE had a purple line present
  • 50% had a purple line at 3-4cm dilation
  • significantly more likely to be present in women who went into spontaneous labour (vs induction)

*(Shepherd, Cheyne, Kennedy, McIntosh, Styles, and Niven. (2010).The Purple Line as a Measure of Labour Progress: a longitudinal study).

This next article by Childbirth Educator Mindy Cockeram explains what to look for and how assessing the purple line can empower couples as the woman labours.

Measurement of the purple line in relation to cervical dilation

Measurement of the purple line in relation to cervical dilation